1119 Tasting Notes


Sipdown no. 134 of the year 2014.

Not something I’ll buy again unless I get talked into it by children, as there are so many other things I’d prefer to drink than plain red rooibos regardless of brand.

However, if you like plain red rooibos, you might like this. It has a distinct vanilla note, and it doesn’t have that pencil shaving thing going on that some rooibos does.


Pencil shaving thing! That’s it. I’ve been trying so hard to determine what is the flavor note that bothers me in certain rooibos blends and you just totally nailed it.

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Part of the new work tea stash, and if anything, more enjoyable here because (1) my expectations are lower and (2) it isn’t mate.

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Since this one got a low rating from me, I decided to bring it to work. I figured it wouldn’t really matter how I steeped it. And I was right. It still has all the weirdness going on with the flavor that I mentioned in my original note, which is a shame because it smells incredibly good in dry form. The flavor isn’t bad, it’s just fairly heavy on the fruit (mostly an apply, orangey flavor—not something I’d expect from the name) and light on the toasted nut. And even lighter on the oolong, which I can’t really taste at all (not surprising given that there’s so much else in this mix).

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drank Grapefruit Green by Lupicia
1119 tasting notes

(Looks around for Anna.)

I’ve been wanting to try this for a while but every time I think about it I realize it will be a first note and that means more systematic paying attention, and then I realize I don’t have time to really give it that sort of attention. I really don’t have that time today either as I’ve been on calls all morning for work and now have to drive down to the office, but I am REALLY in the mood for a flavored green tea and this one was calling to me.

The leaves appear to be sencha, delicate and flat and on the light green side of the green spectrum rather than the tubular, curly and darker green like typical Chinese green leaves. I suppose this shouldn’t be surprising as I believe Lupicia is a Japanese company? I don’t like to think about what will happen when my Japanese stash is depleted. I’m not convinced I want to buy any tea from Japan post-reactor meltdown.

There’s a wonderful tart-sweet grapefruit smell to the leaves in the packet. Now that I look at the packet again, I realize I may have screwed up the steeping. It says to use boiling (!) water, and I steeped as I usually do with greens, 175 for 1:30. The liquor is a light greenish yellow and has a buttery green tea smell. Really not a lot of grapefruit in the aroma.

But the same isn’t true of the flavor. This is incredibly refreshing, like a splash of cold water over your head, except that it’s hot and in my mouth. I know, sometimes the world doesn’t make sense. I expected tartness, but I don’t really get it, though I get a really interesting aromatic finish and aftersip that’s cooling in the mouth. I taste grapefruit though it isn’t as strong as I would have expected given some other Lupicia flavored teas I’ve had, but perhaps that’s what makes it pleasant. It tastes very much like a green tea with a bit of grapefruit essence. Sort of like those flavored waters with just a hint of fruit flavor in them, only instead of water it’s green tea. There’s a tad of bitterness that floats in and out but not enough to make it unpleasant.

It isn’t as wonderful as the white melon, but it’s quite nice. I’ll try it according to package directions next time and see what that does.

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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drank Coconut Cream Pie by 52teas
1119 tasting notes

Down to just a few remaining from my 52teas splurge extravaganza of yesteryear. This, butter pecan, black currant white, a few rooibos/honeybush blends and three chais. Now that I list them out, it sounds like a lot more than a few…

I like this one. It’s a solid coconut black tea of the fresh, juicy coconut variety rather than the macaroon-y, toasted coconut variety. Still not getting pie, but I am getting a little minty-ness which makes it sort of candy-like.

No danger of heaviness in the stomach with this one, which makes it a tea to look forward to sipping down.

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drank MateVana by Teavana
1119 tasting notes

I believe I got this as part of the Teavana tea of the month club. I had a 2 oz packet that had never been opened (until today) that I brought to work.

Fortunately there is so much going on in the packet that I can’t even smell the mate. There’s a chocolate/coffee liqueur smell and something that’s a little like baked goods, perhaps brownies. I may have underleafed, as I only put 1.5 tsps in the Finum basket (I know it says 2 below, but it wasn’t…)

The mix steeps to an opaque medium-brown. Not as dark as black coffee, not as light as coffee with cream. More like a dark caramel. The aroma isn’t wonderful. It smells a little on the plastic-y side, which may also be that liqueur thing manifesting itself after steeping.

But there is very good news on the taste front. It doesn’t taste like mate! So if you like mate, you may be disappointed. It also doesn’t taste like rooibos, so if you like rooibos you may be disappointed.

What it does taste like is more difficult to describe. There are a number of chocolate flavoring agents in this but amazingly, it doesn’t taste very chocolatey. I think it is supposed to taste like coffee, and I suppose it does lean that way, but I would never mistake it for coffee or hot chocolate. It’s sort of a third thing that isn’t without flavor, but doesn’t taste like anything I can identify. The closest I can come is the flavor in the bottom of the ice-filled cup after the Coca-Cola has been consumed, a sort of dilute sweet flavor that has an echo of chocolate to it.

I wonder if it would taste better with more leaf? Will try next time.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Geoffrey Norman

This was the first mate blend I ever tried.

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Sipdown no. 133 of the year 2014. Another biggie, more than 4 oz of tea. Huzzah!

I had intended to do some methodical morning tea drinking today, but everything went pear-shaped because around 9 this morning I realized that I had left my wallet somewhere yesterday. Ugh. I had visions of spending the morning calling everyone under the sun to cancel cards, etc. Fortunately, the BF remembered seeing me holding my wallet at a place where we stopped for lunch after taking the kids to shoot baskets. I called the place and they had it! Even more impressive, everything was still in it. Crisis averted.

But as a result, I only had a cup of English Breakfast this morning, followed by this. It was an interesting tea, and it turned out to be a good commuting tea despite my misgivings given it’s hearty, almost black-tea flavor. It’s goodbye, and it’s goodbye for good because LeafSpa is gone, but because the LeaftSpa Blink Bonnie has a similar flavor, I’ll at least get to visit with a similar flavored tea for a while longer.


Good news about your wallet!


I know, I was so lucky!


You are lucky, you would never find it in Brooklyn


It was interesting, the guy who got it out of the safe for me said that whenever they find things like that they are careful not to even open them because there are so many security cameras throughout the restaurant they would get in serious trouble.


I wonder how long they would leave it in the safe without opening it. Maybe after a few days a manager would look to see if there was ID so they could try calling the owner.


Maybe so.


What an ordeal! I’m glad it was found..that must have been such a relief.


It really was, thanks keychange!

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drank Mayan Chocolate Chai by 52teas
1119 tasting notes

Today’s venture with this was a comedy of errors.

First, after I added milk to the mixture and set the timer, I walked out of the room and forgot to go back to check, resulting in a foaming, overboiled pot when I went back into the room.

Second, after straining the leaves into a measuring cup intending to pour from the cup into serving cups, I went to rinse the strainer and forgot that I hadn’t removed the measuring cup from the sink, resulting in the addition of approximately one ounce of cold water to the mix.

I suspect it would have been better minus these two mishaps. I used TeaG’s Chili-Chocolate Black Tea for the extra black tea. Maybe it was a bit too much, though. I think I’ll try the last bit with a non spicy black tea for laughs.

I gave some to the BF (who loves spicy stuff) with a warning. A minute ago I heard “Whooooaaaaaa, are you crazy!?!?” coming from downstairs. He walked up here and said, “That can hurt you.”



Haha the last part. :P


That sounds like Kapha organic. Delicious, but yes. The spice could hurt you! :)


I’d say Kapha is more potent (really, that one needs to come with a warning label), however this is definitely a great, spicy chai!


I haven’t had the Kapha, but I think this is about as spicy as I can go without paying for it later. ;-)


lol! if it can survive your treatment of it, it MUST be good! :)


Haha, yes, poor mistreated tea. ;-)

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drank Shui Xian by Teas Etc
1119 tasting notes

Sipdown no. 132 of the year 2014. A sample. Made in the gaiwan with short steeps starting at 15 seconds after a rinse.

In the packet, the leaves are so dark they look like black tea leaves. They smell a little like wood.

After steeping, they yield a caramel colored liquor that has a brisk, fruity aroma with a toasty, almost smoky note.

The flavor is more interesting and alive than the other dark oolongs I’ve had recently . (Those were all from Adagio.) I can see what they mean by the chocolate note. It’s not as strong as the chocolate notes one finds in black teas, but it’s there. It’s not a sweet chocolate, more of a dark beany one around the edges. Very nice. The fruitiness here is more complex than in some dark oolongs where you basically feel like you’re sucking on a peach pit, and that’s the single note stonefruit flavor. This one isn’t as woody/stoney, and is more reminiscent of the pulpy fruity part of an apricot.

It doesn’t change as much from steep to steep as I’d expect, but the smoky notes come out around steep three, as does a little astringency which is interestingly coupled with a soft mouth feel.

There’s a smoky, woody aftertaste. The steeped leaves are chocolate brown and have a mild woody scent with a sharp fruity note.

If I didn’t have about a thousand other oolongs to taste, I would put this on the shopping list as I think it merits playing around with a bit more. As it is, while I like it quite a bit, it isn’t completely knocking my socks off screaming “drop everything and buy me!”

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec

If I didn’t have about a thousand other oolongs to taste :)) so many teas so little time. This one sounds good though. :))


Haha, I know, Dexter.

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drank Lady Bedford by Todd & Holland
1119 tasting notes

For my 900th tasting note, I thought I’d taste a tea I haven’t tried before.

When I look at my tea stash, it’s pretty clear that most of what I have is black tea or oolong. I have far fewer green teas and fruit or herbals. I may have more white tea than I do green tea. I don’t know whether this accurately reflects the mix of what I bought, but I think not. I do love black tea, but I can’t drink it much after 1 in the afternoon, and I love oolongs, but I don’t always have time to do them justice, so I don’t drink them as much. Greens, whites and herbals/fruits are probably the ones I drink more often because of time of day considerations, but I also think I just bought fewer of them.

In any case, I have a lot of Todd & Holland samples, many of which are black teas. This is one of them. It’s malty-smoky in the package with surprisingly light colored green leaves. The liquor color is a dark sienna color and clear, quite lovely. It has a sweet, malty aroma with berry and chocolate notes.

The taste isn’t as sweet as the aroma, and there is a bit of smoke in the flavor but it isn’t strong. Like the aroma, the flavor has a maltiness and both fruity and chocolate notes. The fruit note is something on the order of blackberry or rasperry, or perhaps black cherry, and the chocolate is a lighter, mild note suggestive of milk chocolate.

It’s very tasty and it has a lot of “personality.” I can’t quite figure out whether I’ve tasted something similar in a Harney Blend, or whether it was some other tea company, but the flavor is familiar.

Am I the only person who finds it almost impossible to keep track of all the black tea blends I like, particularly over long stretches of time?

Flavors: Berries, Chocolate, Malt

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

Woot, woot, 900!
(I still remember your 666 not that long ago!)


YAY for 900!! Congrats :)


Wow 900!!!


Haha, and thanks. TF, I looked for a good musical interlude for 900 but came up empty.


I’m still far from it, but I’m already thinking of a great Spartan melody for my 300th, lol!
(If such a thing exists!)

Terri HarpLady

Congrats Morgana!


Congrats!! :)


Congratulations! And I’m kind of the same with black blends. They always dominate my stash, but my problem is that while I’m good at keeping track at which ones I like, it’s hard to drink down the ones I don’t care for because I have so much and want to just reach for the ones I favour haha.


Yay 900! I have a spreadsheet where I mark “rebuy” as yes, no or maybe. And I write short tasting notes into a notes column. So I can sort by yes and company, then read what I had to say and see if I really want them or not.

Terri HarpLady

I have a spread sheet that I update & then print out every month, then I check teas off as I drink them. If it’s something I want to re-order, I make note of it. I never make it through all of them, ever, LOL.
Fjellrev, you can send them all to Sil…mwahahahaha


Haha yes! But not just the ones I don’t care for because that would be mean. I tried it once already but it’s so damn hard to find something in my cupboard that she hasn’t tried already. I’d do the same with you but I’m sure you’re a billion steps ahead of me too. ;)


900 notes? Congrats!


Thanks all. Yeah, I should do a spread sheet. My problem is that most of the ones I’ve tasted lately and liked fall on the right hand part of the bell curve where they’re all bunched up. Ugh. I can be counted on to over buy rather than weed out. LOL

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I got obsessed with tea in 2010 for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it. I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I write fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I drink tea without additives. If a tea needs milk or sugar to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’ll rate it high. The exception is chai, which I drink with milk/sugar or substitute. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs, but as my tea skills and tastes developed they became far less appealing to me. I do not mix well with tulsi or yerba mate, and savory teas are more often a miss than a hit with me. That said, I’m not entirely a purist, and I enjoy a good flavored tea, particularly flavored blacks.

I like all kinds of tea depending on time of day, mood, and the amount of time I have to pay attention to preparation.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. But I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas in relation to others of the same type, for example, Earl Greys against other Earl Greys. But if a tea rates very high with me, it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is

90-94 First rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Excellent; will likely buy more

70-79 Very good; would enjoy again, might buy again

60-69 Good; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but likely won’t buy again

Below 60 Meh, so-so, iffy, or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.

People have sent me tea on occasion, and I was once persuaded to send some Tazo Om to AmazonV. I’ve also done at least one group buy here on Steepster, the famous Doulton-led Dammann Freres experiment years ago. But mostly, I don’t swap. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I have way more tea than any one person needs and am not lacking for new things to try. Also, I have way too much going on already in daily life and the additional commitment to get packages to people adds to my already high stress level. (Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does.)

That said, I enjoy reading folks’ notes, talking about what I drink, and getting to “know” people virtually here on Steepster so I can get ideas of other things I might want to try if I can ever again justify buying more tea. I also like keeping track of what I drink and what I thought about it, though I don’t put samples in my cupboard and not everything I have at any given time is showing in my cupboard. I do try to remember to remove things from my cupboard once I no longer have them.

I was an early internet adopter and have been online in various environments since around 1990. Steepster is one of the nicest online environments I’ve ever been privileged to participate in and that is saying something. :-)


Bay Area, California



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